– By Dr. Erin Van Veldhuizen, DC, DACNB, CCCN, CCTT
Tired, fatigued, exhausted, run-down, run-over, weighed down, worn-out, drained, sleepy, drowsy, weary, hurt all over mentally foggy- these are all complaints we hear from patients on a regular basis. Patients have trouble sleeping, thinking, feeling good, being productive, doing work, feeling happy, concentrating, staying awake, completing tasks, etc when they come to our office. Often, they have visited with other doctors, received multiple diagnoses, had multiple tests done, and been prescribed a number of medications to make them feel better. In fact, more than 27 million Americans have thyroid dysfunction, but over half go undiagnosed. They have done what the doctors and therapist have told them, but still continue to feel awful to the point it is negatively impacting their lives.
The cause for the fatigue that a patient is experiencing can be numerous. Often, doctors and patients alike assume that it is: thyroid dysfunction, stress, hormones, adrenal fatigue, infection, vitamin deficiency, etc. Unfortunately there is not an evaluation process established to determine and measure the possible cause, so the patient continues to suffer and become frustrated. It is very important for the doctor to evaluate all body systems together so that something that could be causing a dysfunction is addressed and monitored. If this does not occur and there is no re-evaluation process, the patient may not feel better and receive the relief that they are entitled.
Fatigue is simply a symptom and a doctor needs to evaluate for causes of the symptom rather than just masking it for a period of time while the cause goes undiagnosed and untreated. If the cause is not addressed, the patient may receive temporary relief from an assumed intervention, but eventually, their symptom will return and possibly be worse. Also, some of the interventions can create unwanted side effects while still not addressing the root cause of the fatigue.
It is vital that a doctor evaluate all causes of the fatigue. In some instances, there is more than one cause. Additional causes beyond the obvious or contributing or compounding the obvious possibilities need to be evaluated as well. For instance, the causes of vitamin deficiency could simply be related to diet. However, if a patient has malabsorption, leaky gut, or deficient enzymes; the consumption of foods will not change the deficiency because the vitamins cannot be broken down and/ or absorbed. Additionally, if a patient has a pathogen, such as bacteria, yeast, parasite, or virus, some of the foods he or she is consuming could be feeding the organism and causing it to flourish thereby exacerbating the symptoms. For example, foods that are generally considered healthy, like broccoli or blueberries, could be feeding the pathogens in the system. These foods would need to be evaluated and removed in order to help destroy the pathogen and repair the system.
The key for a patient’s full recovery is to ensure that he or she is evaluated thoroughly and properly. This should include full-system lab evaluation, history, and exam. Once these evaluations are performed, there should be a re-evaluation process put in place to evaluate the efficacy of the treatment.
 Facts About Thyroid Disease, 2005. American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists: http://www.aace.com/public/awareness/tam/2005/pdfs/thyroid_disease_fact_sheet.pdf.
 Coordinate Regulation of Gallbladder Motor Function in the Gut-Liver Function. Hepatology 2008 Jun;47 96):2112-26.